Archive for October, 2010

Take That, Sox Fans

Posted on October 29th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Matt Damon is becoming a Yankees fan—kind of.

Perhaps I’ll Dress Up as Black Francis* for Halloween

Posted on October 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

He’s just very cool, isn’t he? And what a song.

The guy in the wifebeater, though—he scares me.

* Frank Black now, I guess.

Is Halloween Over?

Posted on October 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Essayist Sloane Crosley—who, funnily enough, just moved into my wife’s former apartment (small world, eh?)—thinks so.

Beyond dressing-up, [the problem is] that creeping pressure to do something insanely fun for Halloween. This is a trickle-back attitude from New Year’s. What a smack in the face of fun. Other holidays don’t have this problem. The words “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” invoke turkey, familial dysfunction and airport security. It’s a sincere question, not a fishing expedition. Never has someone said “I’m going to my aunt Hilda’s house in Wooster” and been met with a “That sounds great. When are we leaving?” No one covets your plans, no one wonders what you’re going as this year, no one comes up to you with a straight face and tells you the stuffing is brains and the cranberry sauce is blood.

Me, I don’t think Halloween is (heh) dead. It’s just moved to November 2nd this year. The mindless zombies are going to be out in force….

Are Alaskans Really This Stupid?

Posted on October 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

I’m no fan of Lisa Murkowski, but does her Republican opponent, Joe Miller, really think that this ad will be effective?

On the other hand, Sarah Palin is talking about running for president., and she’s pretty dumb…

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Posted on October 27th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

In Kentucky, a male supporter of Tea Party Senate candidate Rand Paul stomped on the head of a female protester. For real!

But here’s the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up part: The guy who very deliberately stepped on this woman’s head was wearing a big “Don’t Tread on Me” button.

I imagine the irony was lost on him…

The Case for Writing on Paper

Posted on October 27th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

For my birthday last year, I threw myself a party and I invited a bunch of people, and I did it by creating an invitation. I used a painted post card I picked up in Iceland—its dramatic red, yellow and orange colors matched the season— and paid a graphic designer friend of mine $100 to turn it into a very cool (if I do say so myself) invitation, printed on substantial paper, which I then mailed to 100 or so people. Using actual stamps.

What the heck, you only turn 30 once.

Some recipients were befuddled—it had been so long since they received a proper invitation. But most seemed to like the card, and appreciated the effort that went into it. I think it gave them the sense that this birthday party was an event which mattered to me, which it was. For one thing, it was the first chance many of them had to meet the woman I’d started dating not long before; she and I would later spend an absurd amount of money on stationery—wedding invitations.

So I’m with Alex Beam when he writes in the Boston Globe about the virtues of stationery.

With the so-called holiday season fast approaching, don’t you dare send me electronic “greetings’’ of any kind. I’ve had it with “e-vites,’’ “e-cards,’’ and their ilk. Five years ago, e-vites had an air of novelty and people actually responded to them. Now I ignore the few that manage to get past my spam filter. Wired magazine said it best: “Evite is great if you’re gonna party like it’s 1999.’’

Beam goes on to say, and I agree, that not all e-vites are equal, and some can look really nice. (Like, for instance, the Save the Date e-card that my sister-in-law designed for my fiancee and me, about which we got a lot of compliments—and since we didn’t have an excess of time between our engagement and our wedding day, the speed of email was helpful.)

Also, for people on a tight budget, there’s certainly virtue in e-cards.

But still—there’s something about receiving an invitation, or a handwritten note, or even, dare I say it, a letter, in the mail that is different and special.  I suspect that will only become more true in the years ahead.

Jon on Juan

Posted on October 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

On the one hand, I have some thoughts about Juan Williams’ firing that I’d like to express. (He really did want to have it both ways, saying one thing on Fox and another on NYP; nice work if you can get it; you’ve won the battle, but the war? Etc.)

On the other hand, the whole thing is pretty silly and I don’t want to spend the time.

So…better to hand off to Jon Stewart, who is way funnier and has, like, 30 guys working for him.

(It’s a great video, but if you’re in a hurry, start at 4:30 or so.)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
NPR Staffing Decision 2010
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

Another Harvard Club Scandal

Posted on October 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Just days after someone at the Club leaked the news that former NYS governor Eliot Spitzer had been rejected for membership, the Harvard Club is in the news again—and not in a good way!

Turns out that New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly has been entertaining “guests” there—and letting someone else pick up the tab.

…over the past eight years, Mr. Kelly, who has an advanced degree from Harvard, has enjoyed an additional perquisite: some or all of his expenses at the club, including the yearly dues, drinks and meals, have been paid by the New York City Police Foundation, a spokesman for Mr. Kelly acknowledged on Monday.

Which is almost certainly illegal.

(Don’t you just hate it when high-ranking cops break the law?)

So two questions must be asked.

One, did Eliot Spitzer leak this as retribution against the club? (Not sure exactly how this would work, but…the Harvard Club in the news twice in one week? This can not be a coincidence.)

And second, if the Harvard Club rejected Spitzer for breaking the law, will it now rescind Ray Kelly’s membership?

Or is a governor going to prostitutes worse than a cop on the take?

What’s Derek Jeter Really Worth?

Posted on October 25th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Times Freakonomics blog raises the delicate issue: How much should the Yankees pay their iconic but aging shortstop?

If I were Jeter, here’s what I might propose: a salary of just $1 a year to play for as long as I’m valuable, along with a lifelong personal-services contract in exchange for, say, a 5 percent stake in ownership of the team. (One estimatehas the Yankees worth about $1.3 billion, so a 5 percent share represents $65 million at the moment.) That’s a starting point; there’d be a la carte provisions as well — perhaps, for instance, if we mutually decided I should serve as player-manager next year.

I think Jeter is too proud to accept $1 for his playing time—though his skills are declining, he’d find it hard to accept such a blunt recognition of that fact.

And I expect the Yankees would rather sign him to a $65 million deal than give him any equity in the team. (Also, the Steinbrenners have quite a few limited partners, and I’m not sure they have 5% of the team to give away and still own a majority of the franchise.)

The real challenge is a Cal Ripken-esque one: Who’s going to go to Jeter and say, Derek, I’m sorry, but you can’t start at shortstop any more…?

What Are Professors Really Worth?

Posted on October 25th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Wall Street Journal reports on attempts at some public universities to quantify the value of individual professors. Is a biologist who brings in a $500, 000 grant worth more to a university than a scholar of poetry who teaches a five-student seminar?

This new emphasis has raised hackles in academia. Some professors express deep concern that the focus on serving student “customers” and delivering value to taxpayers will turn public colleges into factories. They worry that it will upend the essential nature of a university, where the Milton scholar who teaches a senior seminar to five English majors is valued as much as the engineering professor who lands a million-dollar research grant.

And they fear too much tinkering will destroy an educational system that, despite its acknowledged flaws, remains the envy of much of the world….

I expect we know where Larry Summers would have come down on this: His wife would have been out of a job.